Name recognition played a big factor in the District 34 House of Delegates race for both Republicans and Democrats, Harford election-watchers say.
In the Democratic primary Tuesday, political newcomer Mary Louise Preis, Rosemary Hatem Bonsack, and incumbent William H. Cox Jr. were the top three vote-getters in a field of 10 candidates vying for three seats.
Preis collected the most votes with a total of 4,998, or 13.7 percent, followed by Bonsack, with 4,984.
Cox, who has been besieged by publicity over his ties to the proposed Gravel Hill asbestos and rubble fill, ran second or third in 17 of the 25 precincts in District 34. He garnered 4,089 votes overall, placing third.
Candidate B. Daniel Riley, who had made Cox's rubble fill connections a focus of his campaign, was edged out by Cox by about 440 votes.
"It pretty much came down the way I thought it would," said David Shrodes, a member of the county's Democratic Central Committee. "There were a lot of favorite son candidates, so the main thing it came down to was organization."
Preis, standing on Main Street talking to supporters about at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, could hardly believe her ears when Heather Chance, 10, ran down the street from the courthouse to tell her the news.
'You're No. 1, You're No. 1," Heather shouted excitedly, hugging Preis.
Heather and her parents, Mary and Bob Chance, had worked on the Preis campaign.
Bonsack, whose brother Frederick J. Hatem won the Democratic nomination for County Council president, was thrilled to come in second, but said she has no special strategies for the general election.
"I think we just have to continue to use teamwork," said Bonsack, giving credit to her core group of supporters. "I'm sure we'll do well in the general election, too."
Cox, too, was pleased with the results of the election.
"I don't take anything for granted. It's happened that way in other elections -- Eileen Rehrmann was the top vote-getter in the last election," said Cox, who gave his victory speech to a crowd of supporters at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.
David R. Craig, former Havre de Grace mayor, finished first in the GOP primary with 21.1 percent of the vote, or 2,383 votes.
Cecil W. Wood, widely known for community activities on behalf of the handicapped, came in second with 16.2 percent of the vote, or 1,825 votes.
David M. Meadows, a Bel Air lawyer, finished third with 16.1 percent of the vote, or 1,810 votes.